What does Some Nights mean?

Fun.: Some Nights Meaning

Album cover for Some Nights album cover

Song Released: 2012

Some Nights Lyrics

Some nights, I stay up cashing in my bad luck
Some nights, I call it a draw
Some nights, I wish that my lips could build a castle
Some nights, I wish they'd just fall off

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh Lord, I'm still not...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Mar 27th 2013 !⃝

    The song is about the loneliness, uncertainty, and self-doubt that often comes with the painful progress of self-actualization, or fulfilling one's potential. The protagonist is Nate Ruess himself, as is often the case with his songs. They are all deeply personal. 

    Though everyone may interpret poetry however they like, to find their own meaning in whatever way relates most to them, the writer's true intentions are important. The top 3 interpretations of this song each have glaring inaccuracies that are inconsistent with the actual meaning of the lyrics. #3 is the most outrageous, I hope it's a joke. (Lips = kissing = it's about a girl?!) #1 is closest to the mark, but misses wide on the "war with potential dead brother-in-law" theory and interpretation of the significance of the desert. I think the song is much, much simpler, yet also more powerful, than most interpretations I've read. 

    I'm not saying I'm 100% right, but I strive to be more accurate than the current accepted submissions. My interpretation is based on knowledge of the songwriter's personal history and his other work. (I am not his sister, personal umbrella-holder, hamster, or left sock.)

    It's actually pretty straightforward. "Some Nights" is a personal reflection of Nate's life, family, career, the sacrifices he made to achieve success, the sometimes disappointing emptiness of that success (how prophetic now that he's a mega-star), struggles with the choices he made, loss, guilt, even simply the pain of growing up, and hope. The same themes are woven throughout the entire album, some even begun in Aim & Ignite. 

    I won't go through every single line, but will focus on the ones that are most representative of the overall meaning. 

    "Some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck
    Some nights I call it a draw
    Some nights I wish that my lips would build a castle
    Some nights I wish they'd just fall off"

    Some nights he's performing in concerts, singing the songs he wrote, many of which deal with aforementioned themes. He vacillates between dreams of achieving superstar success in his career, and occasionally wishing he didn't have the burden of such a dream and the responsibilities and problems that can come with it. 

    Elsewhere on the album (in "Stars") he says "Some nights I rule the world/With Barlights and Pretty Girls/But most nights I stay straight and think about my mom/Oh God I miss her so much" which is an even more explicit reference to the lure of his career as an artist and performer and, of course, the quiet moments in between shows when he's alone with his emotions, particularly grieving the death of his mother. "Barlights" and "Pretty Girls" refer to songs from the band's previous album (two of the most popular, too!) 

    "But I still wake up, I still see your ghost..." 

    Said "ghost" appears several times, and could be his late mother, or his old self. 

    "Well that is it guys, that is all
    5 minutes in and I'm bored again
    Ten years of this
    I'm not sure if anybody understands
    This one is not for the folks at home
    Sorry to leave, Mom, I had to go
    Who the f** wants to die alone 
    All dried up in the desert sun?"

    This line tricks people up, in conjunction with the war-themed video and the ongoing political and military conflicts in desert regions. It's got nothing to do with that.

    Nate's been writing and performing for a long time - literally a decade at the time this song was written. He had to leave home, in Arizona, to focus on his career, leaving behind his family, which is a very close-knit one. His mother has since passed away, and he feels a lot of guilt and loss. 

    It was a difficult choice, wether to leave or stay. Many of us must make the choice at some point, maybe more than once. Simply put, this song is about leaving home, striking out on your own, and learning about who you are. 

    "So this is it?
    I sold my soul for this?
    Washed my hands of that for this?
    I miss my mom and dad for this?"

    He left home and everyone he loved, and isn't sure it was worth it. The success he's achieved isn't as fulfilling as he expected. At the time, it wasn't even the phenomenal success he'd go on to, but still impressive and life-altering. (Also, incidentally, his struggles with faith and religion are a common theme in his work.)

    "When I see stars that's all they are, etc."

    Stars are another recurrent theme, representing fate as well as fame. Here it means he no longer believes in fate, and possibly also that fame is not as glittering as we all dream. One could even maaaybe stretch it to believe that celebrities are just people, and stars are just stars. 

    "My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she called "love"
    But when I look into my nephew's eyes
    Man you wouldn't believe
    The most amazing things
    That can come from some terrible nights"
    (That "nights" has been confirmed by the band, not the oft-misquoted "lies".)

    His elder sister, with whom he is close, has had to face her own unique challenges and personal loss. She's had responsibility of the greatest kind bestowed upon her. The love in her now-over relationship, which she either convinced herself of, shared, or was manipulated into believing, was false. But the love that was then *born of it* is precious and true. Even the most terrible nights can be worthwhile, literally, by resulting in a beloved child, or figuratively, resulting in personal growth, maturity, and wisdom.

    Nate loves his nephew very much, and has previously sung to him on "Aim & Ignite". He has a strong sense of family. He also repeatedly refers to his mother, father, and sister, who are all vitally important to him.They represent stability, home, true love, loyalty, and forgiveness. They're the ones he can depend on and trust, who will love him no matter what he does, whatever "big mistakes" he makes.

    The question of "What do I stand for?" is literal, also meaning "What inspires me?", "What motivates me?", "What do I really want from life?", "What makes me happy?","What defines me?", and other questions we all must ponder. What defines us is constantly changing, but it's up to us to decide how we define ourselves. (I don't believe it's at all political.)

    "Most nights, I don't know anymore."

    On the nights when he's doing what he loves, performing, "ruling the world", he feels secure. But most nights he's left struggling with the uncertainty that naturally bubbles up in everyone as we get older, lose friends, lose loved ones, start to drift a bit, start to move forward in our careers, our lives, essentially start realizing we're adults. (Making his "We Are Young" so much more bittersweet and powerful.) The trials of growing up and changing what you are, how you are, why you are, are universal. The one constant is who you are.

    Additionally he has the more personal complications of fame, the loss of his mother and his former band, all exacerbated by his own heightened sensitivity and emotional perspicacity. Without his mother, who was such an important part of his life, he might be feeling like he's lost some of his ballast, setting him off balance. When the person who knows you best is gone, your very understanding of yourself, your own relationship with yourself, is shaken. You relied on that person to know you better than you know yourself, to give you guidance and insight into your own soul. It's a life-changing loss that forces you to wobble for quite some time.

    Ironically, as Nate becomes more and more well-known, the very question of "What *do* you stand for?" will be asked of him almost relentlessly. We're doing it right now by attempting to extract as much meaning as we can from his lyrics, often assigning intentions that aren't even there. In doing so, we're revealing more of what we ourselves "stand for" even if we're not conscious of it. 

    Nate's very hard on himself in his songs. He's also incredibly honest, and lays bare a lot of his greatest fears and struggles. At its most basic, "Some Nights" is about those fears, doubts, regrets, and struggles, as well as hope. 


    #2 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Jul 13th 2012 !⃝

    The song is a summary of his music career. Some nights, the show went badly, some nights it was fair, some nights he wishes that his lips (singing voice) would be successful enough to give him financial stability, some nights he wishes he would have an excuse to quit singing.

    He still sees the ghost of his former band The Format, and he is not sure what he should stand for now that fun. is enjoying success and fame. He feels that he has to have a message.

    He calls to his boys (bandmates) to take risks with their music and to not be affected by the press (hype - black & white print media). He feels that when he works twice as hard at his music, it is liked only half us much and his critics "come again to jack my style".

    But, for one night, tonight, he's okay with it because he has a groupie (martyr) in his bed so he's just going to stop wondering about it all for a while.

    He then resigns himself to his current life. He misses his family as he left them and is now on the road touring with his band. He's become jaded by the limelight and other famous musicians that he now has contact with. When he sees other "stars" they are no longer people he idolizes, but they are just plain people. He's feels like he's losing his earlier musical creativity and songwriting seems bland and all the same to him now. He tries to encourage himself to keep going "come on come on come on".

    A song or performance lasts about five minutes. "Well, this is it guys, that is all- five minutes in and I'm bored again."

    He's lamenting that his music career and touring have gone on for ten years, and he feels that no one understands what it has meant to him to leave home behind. He's from Arizona and didn't want to live for his family and didn't want to "die alone all dried up in the desert sun". So, he left to pursue a music career.

    His heart is breaking because he misses his sister. The con is her love for her brother (Nate) and her belief that he would be a successful musician. He feels he failed her and isn't as successful as she believed he could be. But when he looks into his young nephew's eyes, a little kid who idolizes his now famous uncle, he feels that something good has come out of his music career after all. The terrible lie is his perceived fame; he thinks it isn't deserved or real. The amazing thing is that the young nephew adores his uncle.

    He ends off thinking about giving it all up and moving home again to be close to his family, but then realizes it's just as well to leave things as they are and he will just keep on touring and not go home to Arizona. He currently lives in New Jersey.

    Note: The war theme in the video is a concept of the video director Anthony Mandler and has nothing to do with the meaning of the lyrics when they were originally written.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Jul 6th 2012 !⃝

    This song is like a modern-day "Star Spangled Banner". Not only is it an anthem but it tells a story of two wars. There are two characters: Nate and his potentially dead brother-in-law.

    Nate is currently fighting the same battle that every musician faces: leaving loved ones behind and compromising one's artistic integrity in order to pursue a career and profit. Lines like "here they come again to jack my style" could be a reference to the relationship between big record producers and their artists. He didn't "believe the hype" of what big music business does to the artist. The line "Ten years of this" could easily be connected to the career of Nate Ruess considering he first gained mainstream success in 2002 and signed with Elektra Records. Coincidence? Unlikely.

    Here is a giant leap: did Nate Ruess's sister's husband die in a desert war? Did he claim that he loved her and their son but still chose to go overseas to war? If this is true, wouldn't he wake up every morning seeing the ghost of his wife and wonder what he stands for if he was willing to leave them all behind? The image of dying "alone all dried up in the desert sun" could easily be related to Iraq or Afghanistan. Not to mention this song is about war and these are the wars our country is currently fighting.

    The ideas of missing "mom and dad for this", selling "my soul for this", can be interpreted in either war. In true war the soul is sold because the need for violence detracts from the human understanding of another soul. Any soldier overseas is also likely to miss his family and loved ones. In Nate's war he sold his soul to the record company and feels the artistic burden of pleasing his bosses and audience which will always compromise the integrity of one's art, one's soul.

    Nate is also likely to have some girl that he really cared about but had to leave behind to fight this war. He also sees her ghost every morning and at the end of the song he dreams about her. He also asks "what do I stand for" if I'm willing to leave love to fight a war? Most artists need to leave home for NYC or LA to pursue the dream and it's hard to bring loved ones along for the ride.

    This song begs the question of what any of us stand for if we are willing to compromise loving relationships for our selfish intents. What is this life worth if our actions towards our loved ones don't meet our words?

    This is simply my interpretation of the song. I am not Nate, his sister, nephew or any member of his family.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 13th 2019 !⃝

    I would make his bones remember, shoot some brains into the martyrs, when day comes all must be revealed, all those who made bones do not want the light to dawn. Murderers and sex offenders telling lies and painting their victims as the wrong. All escapes of peodo camp must return there eventually. Don't let them carry you, because you will be a sacrifice and offering. Babies born get drugged and sexually abused, then raised as "normal", those babies go through life feeling like they are needing something, but never know what, that's how they make the wind, that they call it a car, then throw religion at you, a personal Jesus. These are the Gods of sex and drugs and rock and roll.
    No one is perfect, we all make mistakes, but some know exactly what they are doing, therefore there is no real mistake.

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 13th 2019 !⃝

    Don't get pregnant!

  6. anonymous
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    Jul 28th 2019 !⃝

    I think it's about life. Just life in general. The good, the bad. The moments you long for, the moments you dream of. The mistakes, their consequences, their rewards. At the end of the day none of us know what our lives will be or who we will become. All we know is right now. This moment that grounds us in this time. This little space that we each occupy in the world. I think it's about finding comfort in the fact that there is no certainty beyond that. I think it's about learning to embrace both the lows and the highs that you experience when you live a life.

  7. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 19th 2018 !⃝

    I think that it could be more about a boy who was always alone and the had a sudden idea that if he ran away, his life would be better. It showed some depression that I personally share and the anger and sadness.
    For me, this song is really a life/reality thing and I'm sure some others can agree. To me this is like saying "Hey I'm not perfect and I'm willing to show you all and you can judge but I won't answer to it. I definitely can relate to this song but can't say more than this: If things feel impossible or something along those lines, don't give up your hope. Things will always get better, but they have to get worse first.

  8. anonymous
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    Jan 2nd 2015 !⃝

    Ftr this song is about war, as shown in the music video.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  9. cherijane
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    Sep 11th 2014 !⃝

    Well ,I have read all of what others have wrote about what they think the meaning of this song is about and, I think they are all pretty good,but this song to me ,I do'nt believe there is any one out there that hears it the way that I do.'
    'I will tell you why'. I started to hear 'the song,'' some nights ''not to long after my son Matthew died. ' Seems like every time I turned the radio on 'there it was playing on the radio''.
    Even when I changed the station, it would come on within the first couple songs.''
    Well, I told my daughter that I really liked this band and', there music.'' So she bought there CD for me .''
    'You know, I thought that I knew all the words of 'some nights'' as many times as I had heard it ''but, when I got it home put it in my CD player and ,then took out the paper with the lyrics that come with the CD and, started to read the words 'l got goose bumps and started to shake when I read the verse ''mom I'm sorry I had to go,''who the f--k wants to die all dried up in the desert sun''.
    ''You see my son Matthew never got to say good by to me and ,the way he died just has haunted me and ,torn me up'. He was 24 when he died . He had his whole life ahead of him''. 'He cut that short the day he walked out into the desert with no water and, it was one of the hottest days of the summer.'
    When they found him it was to late.''
    'So when I realized the words to the song,''Some Nights'' said ,l think that my son Matthew is using this song to tell me he was sorry he had to leave,who the f--k wants to die all dried up in the desert sun'' and, then goes on to talk about his sister and nephew who'' my son was very close to .'
    ''It may be just me but, it so strang that when I start o think about Matthew this song starts to play .''
    'Like I said I think you are all right about what you interpret the words as but, to me it is something more and, when I found out that Ruess was from Arizona that was crazy also seeing that is where my son died.''

    Well that is all ''I just wanted to share that with someone out there '',you may think I'm crazy or you may believe like I believe '',that there is ways that the ones you love' when they die they do find ways to communicate from behind.'

  10. anonymous
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    Jun 30th 2014 !⃝

    I think this is about how Nate followed his music career. But like in the song he says "5 minutes in and I'm bored again" this is saying that he was very committed and excited at first but soon found that his option may have not been the best. Also then he goes on to say "Ten years of this I'm not sure if anybody understands" Here I can tell that what he is saying is that even though he was unsure early in his career he continued to try. And him talking about he is not sure if anybody understands is showing that he believes that he is in a unique situation and has obviously not talked to any people in his band. So as a song writer myself I believe that "Some Nights" is about the mental fight he is having between his love for his family and his music career.

  11. anonymous
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    May 21st 2014 !⃝

    If you've seen the music video it's about a war............... So it's about the guy going to war and singing to the soldiers (he is a soldier).

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  12. anonymous
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    Apr 22nd 2014 !⃝

    He's talking about how he beat his wife. "My seat has been taken by some sunglasses asking about a scar and I know I gave it to you months ago" and he's also talking about the mistakes he's made in love and in life.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  13. piercerrain
    click a star to vote
    Oct 12th 2013 !⃝

    i'm with megdipaolo on this one. anyone who reflects back on their life can probably say they have a story, feeling,regret etc... that can be expressed in the lyrics. we hear what we want to hear, and these lyrics are so lovely and expressive yet are very open to interpretation on almost any subject regarding the human condition. i myself feel as if the writer reached into my mind and wrote it just about me. the great songs will do that.

  14. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 5th 2013 !⃝

    So basically, this song is about divorce. nate's sister, libbie is getting a divorce. Lets look at the music video, it's a war correct and to me it looks like the revolutionary war,when America was fighting against its self. If you think about divorce it's exactly like that. The house is the country and the two people fighting and screaming are the two different sides.
    Also it says this in the song
    "My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she called love
    and when I look into my nephew’s eyes
    Man, you wouldn’t believe the most amazing things that can come from
    Some terrible lies" (yes it is lies not nights just thought I'd let you know)
    Now here he flat out says, "I'm sorry for the tough time my sister is going through and she married a con (a terrible guy) and thought she fell in love with him. and when I look into my nephews eyes, you wouldn't believe a child could come from so many lies"
    Why would he be talking about his sister or his nephew in the song if they had nothing to do with it. Nate wouldn't do that, he's too much of a musical genius to do that.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  15. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    May 15th 2013 !⃝

    Oh wow, I thought it was refering to Uncle Sam or Big Brother relative the "sister" and "nephew." So, terrible nights would be something like Big Brother spying on you while you conceive your son during a war that happened 10 years ago?

  16. anonymous
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    Apr 4th 2013 !⃝

    You guys are all oblivious dumbasses. This song is OBVIOUSLY about him selling his soul. "Some Nights I wish my lips could build a castle, some nights I wish they'd just fall off" Meaning, sometimes the fame which came from singing is great.. and he wants it.. other times he regrets it and wishes it would all just go away. He says he still sees the holy ghost yet he doesnt know for sure what he stands for, good or bad... much more shows this in what he says. Especially, "I sold my soul for this, I missed my mom and dad for this." OBVIOUS DUMBASSES!!!!!!!

  17. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 12th 2013 !⃝

    Am I the only person who thought it was about the Iraq war?

  18. anonymous
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    Mar 5th 2013 !⃝

    I think he´s just talking about personal life experiences, maybe related to someone going to war, but in any case, he´s from Arizona, so when he says "Who the fuck wants to die alone all dried up in the desert" he´s talking about stayin with his parents until he becomes old.

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